The neighbourhood changed the moment Mum, Warren and Thor arrived.
"Let's set up the cricket," someone said, heading outside onto the normally quiet dirt road between our house and that of Hissene Habre, the Chadian ex-dictator who is under house arrest.
Within minutes, we were batting sixes over Habre's wall as guards from up and down the block came over for a chance to throw or hit. Cheers erupted each time someone knocked over the wickets, or struck the ball well. At one point, Warren ran over and hugged Sonko, our guard, in a moment of unrestrained bliss over a nice bowl. Yvonne, Astou, and nearby residents came out to check out the comotion, and join in a game they'd never seen or heard of before.
Playing cricket on our beautiful front yard 'lawn'.
Later that afternoon, Mum, Warren, Thor and Rich descended on Goree Island with a rugby ball. After a mostly civilized lunch by the harbor, listening to kora players and chatting about nonsense, the Valdmanis lads stormed the beach and began tossing the rugby ball with a group of visiting local school kids. It wasn't long before the passing became tackling, and everyone ended up in the sea. Except Mum, who wisely watched from the sand, too proud of us to speak.
This was just the start of a wonderful four-day visit that was jam packed with excitement and flew by way too quickly.
Laird and Dylan got to spend lots of time with Nana, who read them books in the morning before breakfast and allowed them to leap on her bed. They're now counting the days to summer at Higgins, when they'll be able to visit Nana in the mornings, and maybe get donuts.
Jumping on Nana's bed.
They also were introduced by Warren to Angry Birds, a silly game on his iPad that really captured their imaginations, and to a real rugby ball by Thor, who brought one up from South Africa for them to pass around. It won't be long before all the cousins get together for a beach match.
We also played tennis, lounged by a swimming pool, surfed a bit, and solved all the world's problems over multiple bottles of wine at dinner (and learned how to 'pass the napkin' instead of yelling over each other). It was exhausting, and fantastic, and it made Dakar feel much more like home.
Thanks for a great visit, we'll never forget it! (See you soon on Higgins Beach!!!)
Brothers Valdmanis' minus Roberto.